Health care and technology stocks are leading the gains on Wall Street today, as investors shrug off, for now at least, the economic impact of the federal government shutdown. Encouraging news on the economy is also providing a boost, with a private industry group report that U.S. manufacturing expanded at a faster pace last month. The Dow was up about 50 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P was about 10 points ahead and the Nasdaq was 35 points higher.
- Conservatives' determination to strip funding from President Barack Obama's health care law has produced a deadlock on a temporary spending bill that has forced about 800,000 federal workers off the job today. All federal services not deemed essential or paid for by fees have been shut down. House Republicans are offering to negotiate, but Senate Democrats say that won't happen as long as a deal is conditioned on making changes to the health car law.
- President Barack Obama is calling it a life-changing day for uninsured Americans. They now can enroll for health care coverage through new insurance exchanges. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Obama said more than 1 million people signed on to the system before 7 a.m. Eastern time - in some cases, overloading it. He noted that the federal shutdown is not affecting the health care exchanges.
- Automakers are reporting September sales figures today, and the results are mixed. General Motors says its U.S. sales dropped 11 percent from a year ago, with the company's popular pickup trucks even seeing declines. Toyota and Volkswagen also saw drops. But Chrysler says its U.S. sales rose 1 percent, while Ford's sales rose 6 percent. Industry analysts had predicted a 4 percent drop in total U.S. auto sales last month, because Labor Day weekend was counted in August figures this year.
- Official figures suggest that unemployment across the 17-nation eurozone may have peaked. The EU's statistics office says the jobless rate held steady at 12 percent in August, while the number of people out of work fell for the third month in a row. However, economists warn that Europe's weak recovery means unemployment "will fall only gradually" in the months ahead.